Northern Housing Summit 2019 Summary

The Northern Housing Summit took place earlier this month, attended by over 180 representatives from housing associations and local authorities. The day had three main themes running throughout – future vision and ambition, quality and place, and capacity, delivery and regulation.

Our Chief Executive, Tracy Harrison welcomed delegates to the event, recognising that we face unique challenges in the sector at this time and quoting Amiel: ‘Uncertainty is the refuge of hope’. We certainly have experienced uncertainty, with nine housing ministers in nine years – and one (Gavin Barwell) is present today. Tracy went on to say the NHC is not waiting for direction at a national level.

Engagement with our members was at 94% last year and it’s currently higher this year. She defined our focus which is on influencing and the vital role for the #OurNorth programme. She talked about the research we have commissioned with CaCHE and our work on the Private Rented Sector (both showcased later during the event). As well as this we announced the launch of our new MyNHC platform – on online portal to make our members lives earlier.

Read or download the full summary here.

Impact of Universal Credit – Resource Research Deadline Extended

We have learnt through our roundtable events that housing providers and local authorities are increasingly having to take up the slack and are investing increasing resources to ensure the smooth running of the Universal Credit system for the benefits of claimants and to maintain sustainable tenancies.

In order to quantify the extent to which members are having to invest in services to make UC work as efficiently as possible for their customers, the NHC is undertaking a survey of members. To maximise the response rate, the deadline to submit your evidence has been extended to Friday 6th December. Please click here to take part in the survey or feel free to share the link to someone more appropriate in your organisation.

This latest piece of research builds on the publication of our previous research into the Impact of Universal Credit. The NHC are continuing to monitor how our members and their customers are affected by UC and if you would like any more information or any queries regarding this research please contact Barry Turnbull, Business Intelligence Officer at

MyNHC – putting members at the heart of NHC services

Where are we now?

I’ve worked in the NHC’s Member Engagement team since 2015, and we’ve seen huge changes during that time, both to the housing landscape and in how we deliver services to our 146 local authority, housing association and ALMO members across the North.

We’ve fundamentally changed the way we engage with members, moving from paper to people and putting a much greater focus on bringing members together. We pride ourselves on delivering the services and opportunities that matter to you, and that’s why our member engagement strategy has shifted to make sure we connect members with each other, and with those we need to influence. Our member-led roundtable and network programme has been a huge success, and last year three quarters of our full members had attended at least one.

We carried out a Member Perceptions Survey last summer to test our thinking and to find out what more we could do, and this has been the basis of our new corporate plan. We’re planning more engagement opportunities, with more digital ways to engage with you such as webinars and dial-in options. We’ll have more on offer for all staff within the membership, and a focus on how we can support future leaders.

With so much going on, we want to give you more visibility; and with that in mind we’ve developed MyNHC, an online portal for members.


What is MyNHC?

MyNHC was launched earlier this month at our Northern Housing Summit. Members told us they wanted to better understand how their whole organisation benefits from its NHC membership, whether that’s quantifying procurement savings, or seeing which roundtables, seminars and conferences have been attended. MyNHC lets you see all of this in one place, and all events bookings are handled through it, making your membership even easier.

MyNHC will save a lot of internal processing for us here at the NHC, which allows us to focus even more on delivering the great services we know you value.

Signing up to MyNHC will give an overview of how you’re using your membership now, and how you could use it in the future.

There are uncertain political times ahead in the housing sector with a lot of opportunities, and we’re here to support, connect, and influence. I’d welcome your feedback on the new system and as ever, if there’s anything you need, please drop me a line.

Visit MyNHC here.

Kate Maughan, Director of Member Engagement 0191 5661027

Charities, local authorities and housing associations came together to tackle Homelessness in Leeds earlier this week

Representatives from Crisis, Youth Homeless North East, and both local authorities and housing associations shared their experiences, latest research and recommendations around tackling homelessness at an event organised by the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) in Leeds on the 25th November.

Access to housing is a fundamental part of solving homelessness.

There are now 84,740 households, including 126,020 children, living in temporary accommodation – the highest level in more than a decade – while the children’s commissioner calculates there are 92,000 homeless young people in families who sofa-surfed with friends or relatives.

Social housing is part of the solution to preventing and relieving homelessness. Evidence shows that social housing has an important role to play in ensuring that people with a history of rough sleeping never return to the streets by providing stable and affordable homes. However, tackling homelessness continues to be a growing concern and challenge for the sector, mainly due to the shortage of truly affordable accommodation.

Satty Rai, Member Engagement Manager, Northern Housing Consortium said:

“We’re facing a homelessness crisis and to tackle this, a coordinated approach to providing affordable and safe accommodation and tailored support is required to meet people’s needs and help them live fulfilling lives.

This seminar provided an opportunity to delegates across the housing sector and beyond to hear of the issues facing communities and the approaches adopted across the sector in tackling and preventing homelessness.”

The event heard from Crisis representatives who shared early findings from the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) Implementation Project, a project to support and monitor the success of the HRA, including providing targeted support to five local authorities and research with six LAs to assess the Act’s implementation.

Also sharing key findings from recent research was Prof Glen Bramley, Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University who talked about the report – Homelessness prevention in Newcastle: Examining the role of the ‘local state’ in the context of austerity and welfare reforms alongside Claire Horton, Improvement Lead, Active Inclusion Newcastle, Newcastle City Council.

Delegates heared about practical initiatives from speakers Marie Smith, Housing Manager at Durham City Council, and Jayne Adamson, Tenancy Sustainment Manager at Believe Housing who talked about their partnership approach including New Start, intensive housing intervention and how the Durham key options (CBL scheme) helps to prevent homelessness. Amanda Bloxome, Housing First Best Practice & Partnership Lead at Liverpool City Region Combined Authority talked attendees through the Liverpool City Region Housing first co production approach and Gareth Clarke, Services Manager at Manchester City Council presented on the Greater Manchester approach to meeting increasing homelessness demand.

In response to reports of increased numbers of young people affected by homelessness also suffering mental health problems, Youth Homeless North East ran a participatory research project. Sharon Brown, Director at Youth Homelessness North East and Andy Hayes, Operations Manager at Home Group shared the approach they adopted as part of the research, the findings of the survey and recommendations based on what young people shared.

The event was supported by Locata, a not-for-profit company owned by local authorities and RSLs that provides a complete range of web-based housing option services including HPA2, the market leading homelessness system.

If you are interested in attending future NHC events please go to our member portal

The NHC also runs a free Northern Homelessness Network for its members. If you would like to attend future meetings please email Matthew Wilson, Member Engagement Officer, Northern Housing Consortium –

Lessons from the Early Adopters Group – Building Safety roundtables

The Grenfell Tower tragedy raised the issue of building safety in tall buildings across the country and with 18 high-rise blocks, Salix Homes, based in Salford, Greater Manchester, has been at the forefront of identifying a new approach for the industry.

As one of three housing providers who are part of the Government’s Early Adopters Group (and the only one based outside London), the housing association has played a key role in advising and trialling the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The critical and wide-ranging review is set to transform how the building industry operates and the Early Adopters have become integral in helping prepare the industry for future reforms and the launch of a new Building Safety Charter. This has included testing how residents and contractors can report building faults in a confidential, no-blame process; the creation and management of digitalised building information; and the development of a new approval process for specific phases of the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise and complex buildings to ensure their safety.

As with many housing providers across the country, Salix Homes has also learnt first hand the challenges associated with the removal of ACM cladding and roll-out of safety enhancement measures across its high-rise buildings.

Join professionals from across the housing sector to discuss the latest policy updates, share learning and good practice in building safety, and approaches to legislation changes in this one-day roundtable, informed by Salix Homes experience as an early adopter. The session will cover, but not be limited to:

  • Clarification of the Building Safety proposals (based on the understanding of Salix Homes)
  • Outcomes of some of the Building Safety principles Salix Homes have been testing (such as Mandatory Occurrence Reporting/ culture change/ organisational structure etc)
  • Insight into the proposed ‘Safety Case’
  • Future audits and inspections
  • Forthcoming Building Safety Charter


Please select your prefered location:

Sheffield City Council, Town Hall, Sheffield, S12HH

GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford Street, Manchester, M16EU

Gateshead Housing Company, Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE81JN



MyNHC will launch at the Northern Housing Summit next week

Look out for our new online portal ‘MyNHC’ launching at the Northern Housing Summit (but available to everyone!) from the 5th November. MyNHC will give members:

  • better oversight of how your organisation works with us
  • the ability to book events, pay online and manage event bookings
  • access documentation
  • view procurement information
  • and much more.

If you’re booked to attend the Northern Housing Summit, come and chat to us about MyNHC at our exhibition stand!

Meet the Northern Housing Summit Sponsors & Exhibitors!

We’re excited to bring you our Sponsor and Exhibitor Showcase for the Northern Housing Summit 2019 which takes place on the 5th November in the Renaissance Hotel, Manchester. All food and drinks will be served in the exhibition area which will be open throughout the event. Come and join us and our other exhibitors in between the main conference sessions.

If you are interested in setting up a meeting with any of the exhibitors mentioned below, please contact our Communications Manager, Claire Henderson.


Campbell Tickell – Sponsor and Exhibitor

Campbell Tickell is a multi-disciplinary management consultancy, focusing primarily on the statutory and non-profit sectors. Established for 20 years and operating through the UK, Ireland and beyond, we have expertise in housing, regeneration, social care, sports and leisure, social enterprise and charities.

Our services extend across: strategic and business planning; financial and risk analysis; governance; regulation; business transformation and improvement; mergers and partnerships; development, regeneration and growth; procurement; service user involvement; communications and public relations; human resources and recruitment.


UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) – Sponsor and Exhibitor

CaCHE is a consortium of 14 institutions led by the University of Glasgow.

The centre is a multidisciplinary partnership between academia, housing policy and practice. CaCHE researchers work to produce evidence and new research that will contribute to tackling the UK’s housing problems at a national, devolved, regional, and local level.

CaCHE is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


Locata – Sponsor and Exhibitor

Locata is a not-for-profit company owned by local authorities and RSLs that provides a complete range of web-based housing option services. Built from a core Choice Based Lettings system that went live in 2001, we have since developed a wide range of complementary products and services, including HPA2, the market leading homelessness system and our recent launch – Housing Related Support. We now work with 132 LAs and hundreds of housing associations delivering highly flexible and cost-effective systems and development options.


Mediaworks – Sponsor and Exhibitor

Mediaworks have established themselves as a leading full-service digital agency over the past decade, operating across all areas of digital marketing to deliver inclusive, successful campaigns. The Supporter membership with the Northern Housing Consortium is a key relationship for Mediaworks as they continue to deliver digital marketing support to housing associations across the North.


Retinue – Sponsor

Retinue offers recruitment services in three key sectors: Healthcare, Social Housing and Local Government. Our expert team deliver a suite of workforce solutions, including Recruitment Managed Services, Recruitment Process Outsourcing, and blended solutions. Retinue can create a more streamlined recruitment service from start to finish, putting in place an efficient and cost-effective recruitment process that delivers an outstanding customer service experience to candidates whilst creating a quality and compliant workforce. Our senior team blends expertise across procurement, recruitment and talent management.


Texthelp – Sponsor and Exhibitor

We’re Texthelp, leading accessibility software providers.

Our digital tools support professionals and tenants on their digital journey – increasing levels of engagement, efficiency & equality. Browsealoud makes your website and digital content accessible – enabling tenants to confidently access/engage with your online services and allowing them to easily self-serve.

We also support your housing professionals with Read&Write – a smart toolbar that boosts staff productivity, inclusion and retention. The intuitive features increase digital efficiency for all staff and support those with declared or ‘hidden’ disabilities.


Ward Hadaway – Sponsor and Exhibitor

Ward Hadaway are proud to sponsor the Northern Housing Summit, as we have a long standing relationship with the Northern Housing Consortium. With offices in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, our social housing team are ideally located to assist across #OurNorth. Our ambition is to support social housing providers through expert legal advice on housing management, to developing new homes and everything in between.

We are keen to engage with attendees at the event, so please drop by our stand and say hello!


Airtech – Exhibitor

Airtech has developed a comprehensive service over the last 30 years, which offers landlords solutions to help ensure a healthy home for residents.

As a complete solutions provider, Airtech can conduct a free survey to identify condensation, damp and mould problems within the property; treat and eradicate any existing mould that may be present and supply and install ventilation equipment to reduce condensation and eliminate mould.

Airtech covers the whole of the UK and has worked with over 200 housing providers.


Consortium Procurement (CP) – Exhibitor

Consortium Procurement is the commercial arm of the Northern Housing Consortium. All of our surplus is reinvested into our main focus – to represent our members interests and ensure they are heard at a regional and national government level.

We are a not-for-profit membership body with a portfolio of over 400 members across the whole of the UK. We have provided public sector bodies with a compliant and trusted procurement route for more than 20 years. This has led to us collectively saving our members around £10m each year.


Consortium Procurement Construction (CPC)

Consortium Procurement Construction is a collaboration between Consortium Procurement and LHC, expanding our offering to members to include a full suite of frameworks to support construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing and public buildings, providing MMC solutions and other construction-based frameworks to members.

There are a range of frameworks in the construction, extension and refurbishment category, covering traditional and modern methods of construction, in addition to building consultancy services.

There are specific frameworks for the construction of homes and for non-housing, including schools and community buildings.


Dutton Fisher Associates – Exhibitor

Dutton Fisher Associates are one of the leading providers nationally of the levy funded Housing management apprenticeships at Levels 2, 3 and 4. These programmes can be delivered in-house or as open groups across northern England. They are being effectively used by employers to upskill existing employees, as well as developing new talent.

We also offer CIH qualifications from Levels 2-5; Leadership and Management apprenticeship programmes at Levels 3 and 5, as well as CMI and ILM accredited qualifications.


Mobysoft – Exhibitor

Mobysoft’s RentSense solution helps deliver time and cost saving solutions, which create tangible ROI for social landlords. RentSense is a cloud-based predictive analytic solution that optimises front-line income management workload, giving officers more time for tenants.

The software helps over 145 landlords maximise income, create efficiencies and mitigate welfare reform. Recent independent research highlighted how RentSense users have lower eviction rates than non-RentSense users and how it helps landlords reduce arrears by £300,000 per 10,000 properties in the first two years.


MyNHC – Exhibitor

Look out for our new online portal ‘MyNHC’ launching at the Northern Housing Summit (but available to everyone!) from the 5th November. MyNHC will give members:

  • better oversight of how your organisation works with us
  • the ability to book events, pay online and manage event bookings
  • access documentation
  • view procurement information
  • and much more.


NHC – Exhibitor

The Northern Housing Consortium has been serving members for over 45 years, we are a not-for-profit membership organisation encompassing 93% of local authorities, ALMOs and registered providers of social housing across the North of England.

By using our support and procurement services, housing organisations are investing in making the North an even greater place to live.

Come to our stand to learn more about the services we offer, including our Business Improvement Services, designed to provide you with the help and support you require, and provided directly by the NHC and by the specialist expertise of our high-quality associates.


Orbis – Exhibitor

Orbis are market leaders in providing one-stop-solutions for property managers looking to secure or re-let their vacant properties. Orbis are longest standing vacant property security specialists, creating the first well known steel screens still used today.

Since 1981, Orbis has continued to develop services to provide peace of mind for property managers, for more information please visit our team or visit our website:

For the latest updates, follow us:




The GEM Programme – Exhibitor

Since 2009 the GEM Programme has been recruiting and developing the future leaders of the social housing and construction sector.

GEM and GEM Talent in House Programmes provide unique and proven routes for you to recruit, develop and professionalise your talent pool.

During the 12 month programme GEMs attend a number of experiential learning events throughout the UK designed and facilitated by the GEM team; they build their networks across the sector and they complete a Chartered Institute of Housing Level 4 qualification.



Our Executive Director Brian Robson gives evidence at the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.

The evening of Monday 21st October saw our Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Brian Robson, give evidence at the second session of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee regarding the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing (View the call for evidence here). The Northern Housing Consortium was invited to give evidence following our detailed response to the Committee’s call for evidence on the subject.

The inquiry launched by the Committee aims to “investigate the effectiveness of the Government’s current strategies to boost social and affordable rented housing provision.” The scope of the inquiry will include examining the adequacy of funding levels as well as the programmes designed to stimulate the delivery of homes by local authorities and housing associations. The Committee will also look at the varied challenges faced in different parts of the country. With next year’s Spending Review expected to set long-term investment budgets for affordable housing, the committee’s conclusions will be important in setting expectations.

NHC CEO Tracy Harrison commented: “We have pledged to members that we will ensure our messages reach and connect with decision makers and policy shapers. Our invitation to give evidence to this influential Commons committee is a sign we’re doing just that. Brian did our members proud, by highlighting the ambition that exists in the North and the changes we need to make housing policy work – including increased investment in affordable homes and rebuilding capacity in our councils.”

Brian provided the voice for the northern region on Monday, alongside other representatives from Karbon Homes, Clarion Housing Group, L&Q, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Homes for the South West.

The Committee asked Brian, Victor da Cunha, Chair of Homes for the South West and Matt Thomson, Head of Planning at CPRE a series of questions about the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing. Notably, witnesses were asked if the approach to the delivery of affordable and social rented homes should be targeted on the basis of affordability measures, Brian responded:

“We (Northern Housing Consortium) are very concerned with the direction of travel in terms of the geographic targeting of key housing funds; the geographic targeting that was instituted last November for five other key housing funds, excluding the Affordable Homes Programme, means that now only four local authorities in the North of England have access to the lion’s share of those five key housing funds. This is not consistent with the Government’s ambitions to rebalance the economy [and] to see much more growth in the North, in line with the Northern Powerhouse agenda.”

The Committee referenced the £12.8billion additional funding per year required for the sector’s recommended target of 145,000 affordable homes per year, Brian said:

“It is really powerful that we (the housing sector) are united around this single figure. From our perspective, the important thing to note is that the wider sector wants this investment to be made available right across the country as there is affordable need right across the country. In our part of the world, it comes to 19,000 affordable and social homes required each year.”

Some time was spent discussing the capacity of local authorities, Brian outlined that there is still a case for core funding at the next Spending Review for local authority housing and planning services due to the disproportionate impact on the North as well as the difficulties faced sourcing specialist skills. He also highlighted the leading role some Northern authorities are playing in the delivery of new homes:

“Councils that have larger Housing Revenue Accounts (e.g. Sheffield, Newcastle) have been getting on with it and have reached 500/600 homes now. 7 of the 10 biggest local authority housebuilders in the UK are in the North.”

The recording of the session can be accessed on





Impact of Universal Credit – Resource Research Launched

It has become apparent during our conversations with members in our regular roundtable events that housing providers and local authorities are increasingly having to take up the slack and are investing increasing resources to ensure the smooth running of the Universal Credit system for the benefits of claimants and to maintain sustainable tenancies.

As promised after the publication of our previous research into the Impact of Universal Credit, NHC are continuing to monitor how our members and their customers are affected by the new Benefit system. We have launched a new survey of our members to test the anecdotal evidence we have received; the survey is designed to ascertain to what extent members have had to change the way they work and costs, both in terms of staff time and in terms of financial commitment, to their organisation. We will also seek to collect case studies from respondents to illustrate the housing sector’s commitment to making the UC system work for their tenants.

To take part, and submit your evidence to the research, please click here.

If you have any queries regarding this research please contact Barry Turnbull, Business Intelligence Officer at

Workers waste 30 days per year on email

Unproductive Brits ‘waste’ the equivalent of 30 WORKING DAYS per year on their office email, it has emerged.

Office workers typically spend around two hours each day browsing their inbox, according to research.

However, the survey found around half of this time is wasted by accidentally re-reading messages, needlessly checking for updates and sending emails to colleagues when it is easier to speak to them face-to-face.

The result is around five hours per week, or a staggering 230 hours per year of productivity which is lost.

SoftwareONE conducted the research as part of National Work Life Week, to highlight how a better understanding of IT office suites can transform the work-life balance and productivity of Brits who use a computer for work.

The study revealed one-fifth of office workers confessed their performance at work was hindered by their lack of IT knowledge.

And 15 per cent added they were too shy or embarrassed to ask for help using office suites, causing it to affect their time management.

Andy Dunbar, service lead, Technology Services at SoftwareONE, said: “People constantly check emails when they don’t need to and it is making work harder by unnecessarily taking up time and causing them to lose focus.

“But it needn’t be the case. Collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, which many office workers have access to but aren’t aware of, make it easy to message, chat or collaborate on documents with co-workers without reverting to email.

“And if email is needed, simple things like only opening up your email once per hour can transform your efficiency.”

It is Londoners who are the biggest offenders, saying they needlessly use up more than 1.5 hours of their working day browsing their inbox – 50 per cent more than those in the South-East and West Midlands.

Computer users in Scotland are the most time efficient with their emails, followed by those in East Anglia and Wales.

The research also found a typical office worker sends 10 emails per day to colleagues when it could be simpler to speak to them face-to-face or instant message them.

And more than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed said that their productivity and focus is hampered by regularly checking their inbox but they felt it was something they needed to do.

The 25-34 age group admit to struggling the most.

They typically send 15 emails per day when it’s easier to speak to the recipient and waste 1hr 20 in their inbox. Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) say their regular email check reduces their productivity.

Andy Dunbar, from SoftwareONE, added: “We also need to look at how maximising the functions of available tools and technology can revolutionise our organisational skills and boost our output.

“Tools like MyAnalytics can help you manage your email usage better by cutting out unproductive use and improving your work-life balance, while Microsoft Teams allow groups of people to work on documents simultaneously from remote locations.

“This helps to empower staff, boost productivity and improve work-life balance.”

In recent years, improved technology has radically improved the Brits’ work-life balance with more and more companies allowing staff to work from home.

Of those surveyed by OnePoll for SoftwareONE, half said their employer will let them work from home for at least one day a week.

However, some respondents still said their employer had an “old fashioned” approach and didn’t allow them to work from home despite technology enabling people to carry out their job to the same level from a remote location.

Others said staff weren’t trusted to work from home and there was the belief they need to be seen to be working. This is despite two-thirds of those questioned saying they could perform their job at the same or higher level working at home.

And 56 per cent said it would be a better use of their time to collaborate simultaneously on a group presentation from individual offices.

SoftwareONE has now developed a quiz to see how productive you are – whether you’re a ninja in the workplace or if you need to boost your office efficiency. Take the quiz here – or find out how you can drive adoption of Microsoft 365 in your organisation by visiting

SoftwareONE has also been running a series of webinars on this topic. You can catch up with them on demand by registering here. In addition, the company is running a webinar: Goodbye Skype for Business, Hello Teams. Register for that here.